What were you doing at 15 years of age? Girls? Football? Trying to get served at dodgy off-licences? All the above? Yes, me too. Put in to the perspective of Matheo Tuscher’s meteoric rise this season where he became runner-up in the FIA Formula Two championship, and really it makes us ‘wasted youths’ look all the more inferior.
It would be churlish to describe Tuscher as a boy, lad or youth. Born in Noville, south-west Switzerland the now 16 year old (he turned that milestone today!) exudes a maturity that is astonishing to behold. Confident, erudite and with a clarity of judgement twice his age Mateo Tuscher appears to have all of the characteristics , skill and natural ability to mirror Fernando Alonso, and make it all the way to the top by (at the latest) his 20th birthday.
Two weeks ago, Tuscher was the toast of the motorsport industry when he scooped the 2012 Autosport Rookie of the Year award, beating the likes of established F1 stars; Roman Grosjean, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne to the honour.
“It was great to attend such a prestigious event and meet the stars of our great sport,” Tuscher told Sniffer Media just after he was presented with the award by Red Bull Racing team boss, Christian Horner. “I was extremely honoured to be nominated amongst F1 drivers and other experienced racers. Winning it was a real surprise and I was really, really pleased.”
If ever there was a breakthrough year, 2012 was it for Matheo. A late deal to race in F2 was made just days before the first race at Silverstone in April. Tuscher worked diligently with his engineer, Jan Cantryn (ex-Jaguar F1 engineer) exploring the cars set-up and capabilities before unleashing what he described as ‘the perfect lap’ to seal a sensational pole position with just a handful of laps under his belt in the Williams-built F2 car.
“Our budget wasn’t clear before the start of the season so it was not an ideal situation for us going in to Silverstone so soon with no testing,” confirms Tuscher. “So, with all that taken in to account, if you would have told me we were going to finish second in the first year of F2, I would have been very pleased with that. But, then again I like winning and………”
A year in the little known Formula Piloti series in Asia last season saw him waltz to the title but at the beginning of 2012 he was still pretty much ‘off the radar’ in terms of International recognition. All that ended at Silverstone in April. Experienced junior single-seater observers were left open-mouthed by Tuscher’s skill and racecraft.
As well as the advice of his management team – the Pure Corporation (Craig Pollock and Jan Cantryn among others-), Tuscher’s also benefitted this season from ex-Arrows and Lotus F1 driver Martin Donnelly, who acted as a driver coach at the events with Matheo.
“He was a huge help for me this year,” says Tuscher. “We worked together very well from the start at Silverstone and he helped me progress in every department really; tyre-degradation and understanding how to manage it all, my starts and also how to read the race once the first lap is out of the way.”
Donnelly was incredibly impressed with the Swiss teenager this season and told Sniffer Media this week: “He’s good, very good. At Monza he impressed me massively because he let the race come to him. He dealt with cold tyres on the first lap like an old-pro. We worked well together and he was a good listener. That sounds a bit ‘fluffy’ but for a 15 year old kid it is vital to listen to people who know what they are talking about. He’ll go far, for sure.”
Silverstone was no one-off for Tuscher. Come rain or shine he was consistently at the front. Wins came at Paul Ricard and in the last race at Monza, where he kept his title possibilities alive by overtaking rival Kevin Mirocha on the outside of Parabolica, twice!
And what of 2013? The Autosport Awards brought Tuscher to the attention of a wider audience and many are now wondering where he will race next season? “Nothing is decided just yet,” he says. “We are talking to many teams in the best junior formulas. We have proposals but we must what the budget situation is looking like for next year first.”
Those in ‘the know’ believe Tuscher will be in ‘World Series by Renault’ next season. At just 16, Tuscher will have to ‘beef-up’ if he is to move in to this much more physically challenging proving-ground that formed Vettel, Kubica and Kovalainen over the last ten years. Another option is GP3, and it’s a car he knows from a handful of days testing at Estoril earlier this year. Naturally he took to the Dallara with assured grace and finished both days in the top ten, ahead of much more experienced drivers like Matias Laine and Daniel Abt, the latter of whom just missed out on the title.
“I am concentrating on school at the moment and not thinking too much about next season,” concludes Matheo. “I want to be educated as much as possible and then whatever happens in my racing career will happen. Education means a lot to me. But then I also need to be focused on what I enjoy; keeping fit, studying but most of all racing. With the help of the Pure Corporation I can just concentrate on keeping sharp and delivering when it matters on the track. With my young age I need good guidance, so having Craig (Pollack) and Jan (Cantryn) with me is very good because they have the experience of working at the top level, which is exactly where I went to go to.”
Few doubt these intentions.